UPDATED 2: “The Pressbox’s” KY Derby Rankings Edition #3: Bourbon War Moves Up; Maximus Mischief Moves Out / Quotes From Others

(Maximus Mischief, pictured winning the G2 Remsen Stakes last December, is currently “on hold” after a rather dull work on Sunday / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

HorseTrainerJockeyLast RaceNext RaceComments
1Game WinnerBob BaffertJoel Rosario1st in Breeders’Cup JuvenileG2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19Undefeated 2YO Champ
2War of WillMark CasseTyler Gaffalione1st in the G2 Risen StarG2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19Wow. Again. Next.
3ImprobableBob BaffertDrayden Van Dyke1st in Cash Call FuturityG2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19Yet To Be Tested
4InstagrandJerry HollendorferDrayden Van Dyke1st in Best Pal StakesG2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19Spectacular Until Shelved
5Dream MakerMark CasseFlorent Geroux1st in FG AllowanceG2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3/9/19Looked Great at FG This Week
6RoadsterBob BaffertMike Smith2nd in Del Mar FuturitySA Allowance on 3/1/19Mike Smith to Ride
7Mucho GustoBob BaffertJoe Talamo1st in G3 Robert B. LewisUndecidedComing On Strong
8Gunmetal GrayJerry HollendorferMike Smith2nd in Robert B. Lewis StakesG2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19Has the guts & metal
9Country HouseBill MottLuis Saez2nd in the G2 Risen StarG2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19Green, but Talented
10GalileanJerry HollendorferFlavien Pratt1st in California CupUndecidedWow Time in Cal Cup
11Bourbon WarMark HennigIrad Ortiz, Jr.1st in GP AllowanceG2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on 3/2/19My Tout This Week
12Long Range ToddySteve AsmussenRichard Eramia3rd in G3 Southwest StakesG2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19Better Than Looked
13Sparky VilleJeff BondeJoel Rosario1st in G2 San Vicente StakesG2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19Getting Better
14SignalmanKen McPeekBrian Hernandez1st in KY Jockey Club StakesFountain of Youth or Tampa Bay Derby?Trainer Says He Will Be Ready
15Well DefinedKathleen O’ConnellPablo Morales1st in Sam F. Davis StakesG2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3/9/19Speedy Type
16Harvey WallbangerKen McPeekBrian Hernandez1st in G2 Holy Bull StakesG2 Florida DerbyGets a Break Before Next Now
17Hidden ScrollBill MottJoel Rosario1st in GP MSWG2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on 3/2/19Nice Work on 2-24 at Payson
18Standard DeviationChad BrownIrad Ortiz2nd in GP AllowanceG2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on 3/2/19Slow Work on 2/23 at PM?
19MihosJames JerkensJohn Velazquez5th in G2 Holy Bull StakesG2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on 3/2/19Another Shot
20Knicks GoBen ColebrookAlbin Jimenez5th in G3 Sam F.Davis StakesG2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3/9/19What Happened?
1AnothertwistafateBlaine D. WrightJuan Hernandez1st in El Camino Real DerbyUndecidedWon by 7. Son of Scat Daddy
2RoilandTom AmossJames Graham3rd in the G2 Risen StarG2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19If Breaks Better? Watch Out
3Our BraintrustMark CasseJose Lezcano3rd in G3 Withers StakesG2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19Worked at Casse TC on 2-23
4TaxDanny GarganJunior Alvarado1st in G3 Withers StakesWood Memorial on 4/6/19Guts
5DessmanBob BaffertVictor Espinoza2nd in G2 San Vicente StakesSA Allowance on 3/1/19Victor Espinoza Rides
6Global CampaignStanley HoughLuis Saez1st in GP AllowanceG2 Fountain of Youth on 3/2/19Trainer Says Ready, Aim, …
7Mr. MoneyW. Bret CalhounGabriel Saez7th in G2 Risen Star StakesG2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19Dull. Maybe Needed a Race?
8KinglyBob BaffertDrayden Van Dyke2nd in El Camino Real DerbyUndecidedBeaten 7 lengths. Ouch
9AquadiniDallas StewartCorey Lanerie1st in MSW at FG 2/2/19FG Allowance on 3/2/195-Horse Field / Needs to Shine
10Maximus MischiefRobert E. Reid, Jr.Jose Ortiz3rd in G2 Holy BullUndecidedLast Work = Rest For Now

There wasn’t any major prep races for the Kentucky Derby this past week. No hype beforehand. No strategy to dissect within. No events to unravel afterwards.

But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some drama.

There’s always drama on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” right? Always.

And, sure enough — despite the fact that the horses did most of their running in the mornings, getting in their miles and preparation in practice sessions all over the country — there were some developments.

A serious one, in fact.

On Sunday, trainer Robert E. Reid put his 3YO colt Maximus Mischief through his regular workout regiment at Gulfstream Park. The Into Mischief colt, who entered the 2019 calendar year full of hope and run after an undefeated 2YO campaign, which included an impressive win in the G2 Remsen Stakes, looked fine as a fiddle going in. He was certainly out of tune and step coming out.

Maximus Mischief — who was third in the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 2 to start the 2019 campaign — worked a half mile in a rather dull :49.02. It was the 11th best work out of 58 to go the distance. But it was not good enough to impress his trainer, Robert E. Reid, Jr. A little later in the morning, Reid announced that he was backing off the colt’s training; was not entering him in the Fountain of Youth; and was going “back to the drawing board.”

In fact, Reid went on to be quoted as saying that his colt seemed to be “…just going through the motions.”

This is a major development. And, to many, a major disappointment.

Another workout this weekend drew attention and raised eyebrows, as well. On Saturday, trainer Chad Brown sent out the Curlin colt Standard Deviation at the Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida. The colt went a half-mile in :50.40. That was the 42nd fastest time out of 79 to go the distance. Now, there has not been much comment from the Brown barn or the connections following that morning exercise, and the fact is the colt has worked over this same surface 7 times since Dec. 30. None of the works have been faster than :49 flat. So, what is one to make of Saturday’s work?

That will be a matter of debate, I am sure, for all handicappers to consider. And, I have to admit that trainer Chad Brown has won a few more races than I have. But for my taste? I would like to see a horse working better in the mornings as they head into the major Kentucky Derby prep races in the afternoons. Especially for a horse that has only won a single race in four career races, and that was the maiden race back in August of 2018.

As a result, I think there are openings for others to move up the “Leader Board” and “The Pressbox’s” Rankings. And, the biggest jump this week comes with Bourbon War — a very talented 3YO Tapit colt who gives off all the vibe and indications that he is a horse headed in the absolute opposite direction of the other two that we have mentioned. And, that direction is? Definitely on the rise.

After breaking the maiden in the first career start, trainer Mark Hennig took a shot in the Remsen — against Maximus Mischief, a much-more schooled colt. Bourbon War ran fourth that day, in the second career start, and was beaten about 9 lengths. Not bad. Especially when you consider that he was wide throughout and 5-wide in the upper stretch. But still not great.

Great may be coming, though.

In his first start this year, the colt ripped through, in-between horses to win a nice allowance event at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18. Went from the near rear of the 9-horse field to win by 21/4 lengths, and was pulling away. Since then, Hennig has put the colt through 4 morning drills. On Feb. 22, he went a nice half-mile at Gulfstream Park in :48.68. That was 15th of 43 to go the distance. Three works before, he went the same distance in :48.03. That was 5th best of 42.

He looks to be sitting on go. Hennig may be sitting on gold.

We shall see when Bourbon War tackles the big boys in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

There are a few other major races to watch this weekend, as well:

On March 1, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert will send out Dessman and Roadster in an allowance event at Santa Anita. Mike Smith will get the assignment on Roadster, who will be making his first start since last summer’s runner-up finish to Game Winner in the Del Mar Futurity. Victor Espinoza will get the reins on Dessman, who was second in the G2 San Vicente in his last out. Interesting intra-squad matchup there.

On March 2, Aquadini — a newcomer this week to the “others” list — will run in an allowance at the Fair Grounds. This one is coming off a spectacular maiden win in his career debut and will face four rivals for the barn of Dallas Stewart. This is one that bears watching. Can he take another giant stride forward?

And, then, of course we have the Fountain of Youth. Always a major stepping stone to the Florida Derby and another major prep along the road to the Triple Crown. Can Hidden Scroll match his fan’s enthusiasm? Can Standard Deviation run better? Can Global Campaign and Mihos start to move up the ladder? Will Signalman make his 2019 debut?

Lots of questions. Lots more drama.

Stay tuned.

This is why we have our own version of “March Madness.”

(Ryan Dickey, Correspondent with “The Pressbox” and horse lover extraordinary)

“Per trainer Danny Gargan on Twitter this morning, Tax will be pointing to the Wood Memorial—bypassing the Gotham. If that’s the case, I’d move Tax up the list of Derby contenders, into the top-15.
“I’m not so high on #12 Long Range Toddy in this edition of the list, so maybe swapping out Long Range Toddy for Tax would do.”

(Ed DeRosa, the Director of Marketing at Brisnet.com)

“I find myself picking through most of these lists and landing on ‘he’s too slow’ as a default response to many of the horses listed, but that’s starting to be unfair considering we’re less than 10 weeks away from the Kentucky Derby, and any of those horses just has to be faster than the rest. All Derby starters will likely have run their final prep within the next 7 weeks, so here’s hoping we start to see some impressive performances.”

(Scott Shapiro, Ace Handicapper for both Horses and Sports Betting & All Around Great Guy)

“As we head into March I still have Improbable as the clear horse to beat on the first Saturday in May. We will find out more over the coming weeks, but Game Winner’s recent works have not impressed and I think a mile and a quarter is a stretch for War Of Will. Horses like Instagrand and Roadster may have the upside but they have not raced in so long it is hard for me to consider them major players until they do something on the track.”

(Jonathan Lintner, Editor for the HorseRacingNation.com)

“Hidden Scroll cracked the Top 5 of our Kentucky Derby Media Poll released Monday, and here, he’s 17th. I don’t think either party is wrong — and both could actually be overvaluing the flashy debut winner. How often, after all, do horses that earn 104 Beyers on debut run back to that second time? The Fountain of Youth Stakes is most interesting to me simply because of this horse, who could prove himself to be a truly special talent.”



The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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